I’m a white belt. A beginner.

It’s taken 7 months of consistent training at an average of 3 days/week (2 hours per session) — roughly 150 hours of intense focus and physically demanding rolling (training on the ground) with guys and gals that are as much as 35 years my junior to obtain my first stripe. This stripe is my first step in working towards my next level (blue) belt. I have been submitted hundreds (if not thousands) of times. I have gone home bruised and so sore that Arnica, Vitamin C, magnesium and IBprofen have become common. I have exhausted my brain cells extensively and feel as if I have lived “50 First Dates” like Drew Barrymore every time I step onto the mat.

This stripe means the world to me. It represents recognition by Nolan Dutcher, BJJ black belt and owner of the studio that I train at, that I have put in the work and dedication. It is humbling to realize that I know so little and yet more than I did 7 months ago. It symbolizes the hard work that is needed to learn a new skill at an older age. It inspires me to put in the time and effort. I thank all of my BJJ colleagues and teachers for helping me along this path.